A novel rat model of heterotopic ossification after polytrauma with traumatic brain injury

Rhys D. Brady, Michael Z. Zhao, Ker R. Wong, Pablo M. Casilla-Espinosa, Glenn R. Yamakawa, Ryan C. Wortman, Mujun Sun, Brian L. Grills, Richelle Mychasiuk, Terence J. O'Brien, Denes V. Agoston, Peter V.S. Lee, Stuart J. McDonald, Dale L. Robinson, Sandy R. Shultz

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Neurological heterotopic ossification (NHO) is characterized by abnormal bone growth in soft tissue and joints in response to injury to the central nervous system. The ectopic bone frequently causes pain, restricts mobility, and decreases the quality of life for those affected. NHO commonly develops in severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients, particularly in the presence of concomitant musculoskeletal injuries (i.e. polytrauma). There are currently no animal models that accurately mimic these combinations of injuries, which has limited our understanding of NHO pathobiology, as well as the development of biomarkers and treatments, in TBI patients. In order to address this shortcoming, here we present a novel rat model that combines TBI, femoral fracture, and muscle crush injury. Young adult male Sprague Dawley rats were randomly assigned into three different injury groups: triple sham-injury, peripheral injury only (i.e., sham-TBI + fracture + muscle injury) or triple injury (i.e., TBI + fracture + muscle injury). Evidence of ectopic bone in the injured hind-limb, as confirmed by micro-computed tomography (μCT), was found at 6-weeks post-injury in 70% of triple injury rats, 20% of peripheral injury rats, and 0% of the sham-injured controls. Furthermore, the triple injury rats had higher ectopic bone severity scores than the sham-injured group. This novel model will provide a platform for future studies to identify underlying mechanisms, biomarkers, and develop evidence based pharmacological treatments to combat this debilitating long-term complication of TBI and polytrauma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115263
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Brady model
  • Computed tomography
  • Ectopic bone
  • Femur
  • Fracture
  • Musculoskeletal injury

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